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Ponson bags first win as Rangers finish up successful homestand

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Sidney Ponson got released by Minnesota last May, the big right-hander knew he wasn't physically or mentally ready to keep pitching. So he went home and was out of the major leagues until last week.

Now his pitches are sinking again, and his confidence is soaring.

Ponson went eight innings to earn his first victory in exactly a year, and the Texas Rangers finished off a successful homestand with Ron Washington still their manager, beating the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Thursday.

"My changeup and my slider helped me throw more strikes. I was lucky enough to have two extra pitches besides my slider," Ponson said. "I'm just happy Texas gave me a chance to pitch back in the big leagues, and I'm going to get the most out of it."

The Rangers took two of three from both Minnesota and Kansas City during the homestand, which began after a miserable road trip and a meeting of owner Tom Hicks, president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels about the team's direction. Texas (11-18) set a team record with 18 losses in April, and still has the worst record in the majors.

"I'm judged on wins and losses. We haven't been getting a whole lot of wins, so it falls on me. I can handle that," Washington said. "I'm still here, and we're going to still fight. I can't say it doesn't bother me. ... I just know just as bad as we were, things can turn around. The guys in that clubhouse believe it. I believe it."

Washington has an 86-105 record in his second season, his first managerial job after 11 seasons as a coach in Oakland, where Texas begins a three-game series Friday night. Since sweeping a doubleheader at home on April 10 to go to 5-4, the only time the Rangers have had a winning record under Washington, Texas has lost 14 of 20 games.

Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff homer in the first and Ramon Vazquez hit a tiebreaking drive in the sixth off Zack Greinke (3-1).

Ponson's previous victory was on May 1, 2007, for Minnesota against Tampa Bay. He made only two more starts for the Twins before getting released.

"Mentally and physically I wasn't there," said Ponson, who battled injuries when he pitched for St. Louis and the New York Yankees in 2006. "I told my agent, I ain't playing. I'm going to go home, chill and relax, get everything out of my mind."

The 31-year-old Ponson (1-0) signed a minor league deal this spring, and was recalled Saturday for his first start with the Rangers. He allowed five runs, only one earned, over 5 1/3 innings vs. the Twins.

Against the Royals, Ponson benefited from two double plays and picked off a runner to face the minimum three batters in the fourth through seventh innings. He struck out five and walked two while throwing 76 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

C.J. Wilson worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.

Greinke scattered four hits without any walks and struck out nine, fanning All-Star shortstop Michael Young three times. Greinke's ERA actually rose, from 1.25 to 1.47, still second-best in the American League.

"First at-bat to Kinsler, it was over the middle, shouldn't have, and he hit it," Greinke said. "I settled down from there. Ponson was great. His sinker was really moving. The wind was blowing straight out, it helped his sinker and helped my curveball. It might have been an advantage to him."

Kinsler lined a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats for his second leadoff homer of the season. Vazquez followed with a single before Greinke retired 12 straight -- half of those on strikeouts. Rookie Brandon Boggs singled leading off the fifth and the only other to reach base was Vazquez, on his one-out homer in the sixth.

"Zack was really good," manager Trey Hillman said. "We got the pitching back but couldn't put the offense with it. ... They were good enough against Zach on two swings to get the ball out of the ballpark."

Notes

  • Young's 14-game hitting streak ended. It was the longest active streak and matched Boston's Dustin Pedroia for the longest in the AL this season.
  • The getaway day game lasted 2 hours, 10 minutes, following games of 3:41 and 3:28 in the first two games of the series.
  • The Rangers had planned to use Milton Bradley in RF on Thursday, which would have been the first time since knee surgery last year that he would have played consecutive games in the field. But he came out of Wednesday night's game with a hamstring cramp, and didn't play Thursday. Washington said Bradley was fine and would play Friday.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Texas

S. Ponson
IP 8.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 2
K 5
Kansas City

Z. Greinke
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 2
BB 0
K 9
 
Kansas City Royals
Joey Gathright, CF4000011 .247
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4011011 .316
David DeJesus, LF3020100 .354
Jose Guillen, DH4000004 .176
Mark Teahen, RF3000120 .269
Billy Butler, 1B3010011 .291
Alex Gordon, 3B3000002 .292
John Buck, C3010010 .225
Tony Pena, SS2100001 .152
   a- Alberto Callaspo, PH-SS1010000 .368
Totals3016126  
a-singled for Pena in the 8th
Batting
RBI - Mark Grudzielanek (4)
2-OUT RBI - Mark Grudzielanek (2)
CS - David DeJesus (1, 2nd base by Ponson/Saltalamacchia)
Team LOB - 4
Kansas City Royals
Zack Greinke (L,3-1) 7422092 1.47
Leo Nunez 1100000 2.38
Pitches-Strikes - Zack Greinke 105-68, Leo Nunez 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zack Greinke 6-6, Leo Nunez 2-1
Batters Faced - Zack Greinke 25, Leo Nunez 4
Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler, 2B4111001 .298
Ramon Vazquez, SS4121001 .265
Michael Young, DH3000031 .307
Josh Hamilton, CF3000020 .322
David Murphy, RF3000001 .278
Brandon Boggs, LF3010010 .556
Ben Broussard, 1B3000011 .167
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C3010011 .300
German Duran, 3B2000011 .211
Totals2825209  
Batting
HR - Ian Kinsler (2, Greinke), Ramon Vazquez (1, Greinke)
SH - German Duran (4)
RBI - Ian Kinsler (13), Ramon Vazquez (3)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Kinsler-Vazquez-Broussard, Broussard-Vazquez
Texas Rangers
Sidney Ponson (W,1-0) 8611250 1.35
C.J. Wilson (S,6) 1000010 3.00
Pitches-Strikes - Sidney Ponson 108-76, C.J. Wilson 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sidney Ponson 10-6, C.J. Wilson 1-1
Batters Faced - Sidney Ponson 29, C.J. Wilson 3
Game Information
Attendance - 14563
Game Time - 2:10
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Tim Welke, First Base - Chuck Meriwether, Second Base - Bill Welke, Third Base - Chris Guccione